Three infants die of bacterial infections at Danville, Pa., hospital

Doctors Mark Shelly, left, Frank Maffei, and Rosemary Leeming,of the Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pa., talk at a press conference earlier this week about bacterial infections in the hospital's neonatal intesive care unit that claimed the lives of three infants.

DANVILLE, Pa.  - The parents of one of three infants who died from a waterborne bacteria outbreak at Geisinger Medical Center last month have hired an attorney to investigate their child's death and prepare a wrongful death lawsuit against the hospital.

"There are all kinds of questions that come to mind that are truly shocking," Philadelphia attorney Matt Casey said Friday.

He represents Zuleyka Rodriguez and Luis David Cepeda of Hazle Township, the parents of Abel David Cepeda, who was born at the hospital Sept. 24 and died in the neonatal intensive care unit six days later.

Casey said at the time the couple were not informed about the specific cause of their son’s death. Nor, he added, were they told the neonatal unit for prematurely born babies could be contaminated by the waterborne bacteria known as Pseudomonas bacterium.

Two other infants also died from the bacterial outbreak and five others were infected, hospital officials confirmed at an Oct. 7 press conference.

Geisinger officials said they became aware of the presence of the bacteria in early August, but had no explanation on where it came from or how it got into the neonatal intensive care unit.

"This was concealed for two months,” said Casey. “They knew there was a problem back in August yet they continued to accept kids into that NICU."

Dr. Frank Maffei, the hospital’s chair of pediatrics, told the New York Times the Pseudomonas bacterium is a common germ that is usually harmless. But he noted the bacteria can cause disease in “very fragile patients.”

The infant deaths, he told the Times, “may have been a result of the infection complicating an already vulnerable state.”

Matthew Van Stone, the hospital’s media relations director, said it has worked with the State Health Department and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “to investigate and ensure that proactive measures already taken have eradicated the bacteria as well as prevent any additional cases."

Details for this story were provided by the Sunbury, Pennsylvania, Daily Item.

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